A Pretty Funny Interview: Dana Clark of Heroic Humans

Heroic Humans founder & CEO Dana Clark talks about making connections, extroverted introversion, and her own personal Beyonce.

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Do you ever stop and think about who your heroes are? A lot of us seem to think that a hero is something that is a far above us, like people who need to be put on a pedestal. You’ve got sports heroes, superheroes, world leaders, Enrique Iglesias (he can be your hero, baby).

Something we don’t often think about are the heroes in our every day lives. The people who strive to make a difference and impact every day in their work or their spare time. Heroic Humans is an initiative started by 23-year-old Dana Clark from King City, Ontario. The goal is simple and inspiring: it’s a place to acknowledge the heroes who are making an impact every day through their words, actions, and intentions.

The project is just getting started but has taken off with a head of steam and has already had a ton of outreach. I caught up with Dana over FaceTime while she was in Florida, and found we had a ton in common: a few mutual friends, she went to Lakehead Oralia while I now work at Lakehead Thunder Bay, and the same overall message that people are capable of amazing things.


Evan: So how long have you been doing Heroic Humans?

Dana: It’s been officially only two months, October 1st I launched. It feels like it’s been 10 years as a little part of me.

E: How did it come about?

D: I work at Lululemon part time (on top of her current studies in Broadcast Journalism at Seneca). I was in the meeting with my managers and they ask a lot of thought provoking questions, like “If you had one character trait in the world what would it be” and “what are you doing here” and the last question they asked was “who are you here to be?”

I said well, I guess I’m here to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good partner, a good granddaughter, a good friend, and I want to, in any capacity, show up for someone every single day of my life. I want to make a difference and I want to be a heroic human.

They were like “wow, that’s better than we expected.” I went home and I could not get “heroic humans” out of my head. I couldn’t sleep. I was having a glass of wine with my mum and she said “Dana, you just need to go do this right now before it slips your brain.” I didn’t really know what I was going to do with it at first, but I went and bought the domain, the website, everything, and said “okay, I guess I’m going to give it a whirl.” That was in the end of May.

E: Then you had time to get ready for the launch

D: Yeah, then I had to come up with my mission statements, and my values and logo, and website design and all that jazz. The mission is to inspire, celebrate and empower heroic members of all communities. That is just getting people to really just want to celebrate each other. Getting people to notice the good and bring out kindness, and support your community. I’m sure you’d agree that with any community connection and people who are supporting each other, anything is possible. Whether you’re a cancer survivor, or a great barista, or an up-and-coming entrepreneur, your community should know about it and those around you should support you and encourage you.

We don’t acknowledge each other enough. So it’s this space I’ve created to be able to do that and to celebrate that.

E: There’s a variety of people on the site. I read about the two yoga instructors [who run The Yoga Project which brings yoga into K-12 schools] and I read about the football coach, [who teaches athletes to become more well-rounded and think about their overall impact in the world] both very interesting. What’s been the overall response you’ve received from Heroic Humans?

D: The response has been insane. I always say to myself that if something happened tomorrow to myself, to social media, or to the planet, I would feel absolutely fulfilled from what I’ve got so far. The people who support you when you don’t even  ask for it is insurmountable and people have no idea how much it means just to say to someone “hey, what you’re doing is so cool” or “good for you.” The support has been crazy, and people from all over the world.

We now have the gift of social media that we can truly reach anybody we want to, and people from New Zealand to London to Iceland. It’s so cool, the outreach. I feel so lucky for everyone who is supporting me, you know?B0E6C87E-8554-45C0-917D-57C08BF150F3

E: What did you get your degree in?

D: Media studies, and criminology. It was inter-disciplinary.

E: So you wanted to become a CSI writer, that’s good.

D: And I minored in psych, so even more backing for that. Now that I have this passion of mine I kind of want to run with it and see where it will take me and what I can do with it.


E: Who was your hero growing up?

D: Interesting. I’m going to be super cliche and say my mom. My mom pretty much raised me by myself, and my brothers, and she’s been an entrepreneur and had her own business for about 35 years now. She’s been a complete, literal Beyonce of my life. She’s just amazing and really inspired me to not have to necessarily live the way that society wants us to and the way we’re supposed to. To really get outside the box and think about what you want, and what works for you, and what you’re passionate about. I think that really helped me develop my dream for Heroic Humans.

Even in 3rd year, I had this vision that I wanted to run something huge or be the face of something and change peoples lives and be like an Ellen or Oprah and just help people. I didn’t know my cause or my values, I didn’t know what I was after and my mission. Then Heroic Humans fell on my lap and I thought “Oh my God, this is the outlet that I’m supposed to be working with. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

My goal is to have big Heroic Humans conferences all over the world with heroic people from everywhere coming together to inspire others and a place where you can come where any dream or goal of yours is celebrated, acknowledged and shared. My mom definitely gave me the gumption to chase after what I wanted to do.

E: What other goals do you have for Heroic Humans because it’s just a baby right now?

D: Honestly, it’s such a baby. It’s two months. As you know when you’re starting something you put so much into it that it honestly feels like it’s your whole life. Then you remember that there are other things.

Short term goals would be looking to have a big launch party and have some local press and invite people to hear about Heroic Humans and participate. Other goals include bringing on more ambassadors. I recently brought on two LGBTQ ambassadors because I want to have reach in every community and have people that people can relate to and to tell their stories, and have someone in the community people could turn to.

E: And that’s Ryan & Randi?

D: Yep! And to have an environmental ambassador, and wildlife. To have women’s rights, athletics, fitness, I want to have someone that anyone could look at and say “I didn’t know someone else felt the way I feel.”

Another short term goal would be to have conferences starting in just my community and bringing people together, whether to crush your goals or to talk about your up-and-coming projects, or you just need someone to talk to. I have high hopes, and at this point anything is possible and the the response has me feeling so blessed so far.

E: As someone who, as far as I can tell, is someone who is a fan of the human connection: do you consider yourself an extrovert?

D: You know what? I don’t know. I think I’m an extroverted-introvert. Do you believe in that? It’s okay if you don’t [Evan’s note: I do, for sure]. I love connection, but connection isn’t all about talking and laughing. There’s so much more, and it can be so much deeper than that. It can be so vulnerable and it can be things on the inside.

E: What are your opinions on social media?

D: I actually think it’s a pretty great place. At least the things that I feel attracted to while I’m on there, you really do see the power behind giving someone the opportunity to support you. The majority of people will help you if you just ask. We’re all so scared to ask for help and are scared to be shut down, but if you ask most people will say yes. I think social media gives you that ability to meet people that you’d never meet. Like I would have never met you, you know? You just have to know your ways about it.

E: It’s been two months of Heroic Humans. How has it changed your everyday life?

D: I feel I so appreciate humanity more. If you just ask for help, most of the time someone can help you. If you just smile at somebody, most of the time they’ll smile back. If you treat someone with kindness, they’re likely to treat you with kindness back.

Also practicing what I preach, because I so often talk about being a raw human to connect with others and being accepting, leading with non-judgement. I’m human, and sometimes I don’t do those things and then I catch myself and say “I’m the heroic human here, and I need to act accordingly and check myself.” I feel like it’s made me a better person, and more willing to get to know people and see the good that people have to offer.

E: If you could give people one piece of advice, what would it be?

D: You have no idea what the person next to you has been through, unless you ask. So find out, always ask, get curious. Ask the difficult questions, even if you think they won’t answer. What do you have to lose? At least you tried.


Already Dana has profiled a ton of interesting people over on Heroic Humans who are doing their part to make the world a little bit better every day. She’s doing her part as well, by giving a place to showcase the heroes to the world.

I urge you to check out Heroic Humans in the many ways available to you. Check them out on their website: http://www.heroichumans.com; their Instagram here (which just got to over 1000 followers on the night we spoke); their Facebook page is here.

It’s always nice to know there are people who are recognizing the little things and the big efforts going on in local communities to make a difference. Dana has given them a platform, and it will only continue to grow.

To the Window: A Love Letter to the Wall

To the first bar I ever thought of as “our bar.”

It’s a weird thing to go to a bar for the first time. How do you act? What do you do? What’s the etiquette here? It’s hard to understand and learn based just on movies or what your older siblings tell you, which can make for a difficult transition into the world of social drinking.

That transition was made infinitely easier at Nipissing because of a wonderful place known as the Wall.

The Wall is closed now, but during my five years there are a student was one of the most important intsitutions for a number of reasons. It’s gone and been replaced, but I felt the need to write about my appreciation for the first bar I ever called “our bar.”


As I mentioned, it can be hard to know what to do at a bar. How do I get a drink? What are bars even like? The Wall gave me and other students the opportunity to learn that etiquette and experience social drinking in a safe space that was predominantly students.

Instead of going out into the vast unknown (at the time) of North Bay, we could stay on campus. A quick walk down allowed students in for wet/dry or all ages nights to experience first hand what a bar and nightclub is. There were no (or at least very few) older strangers; it was just students like us out to have a good time.

Spinny Hat

My very first night at the Wall, I wore a hat with a propellor on it because of course I did. Proof of my stellar fashion sense can be seen left. It was stolen by another student in an act I consider unforgivable to this day. Yet I love that first night because after that, it was never considered for me a scary place.

They had theme nights, celebrating Hallowe’en and New Years. There were nights to go out with friends to celebrate or relax after a long week. There were pub nights on Tuesdays to celebrate or relax after a long half week.

They had the best concerts. My first year alone saw Down With Webster, Steve Aoki, Alexisonfire, Bedouin Soundclash, Lights (who seemed to come every year) & Mother Mother all come to rock a small stage in a little bar in the middle of Northern Ontario. I would have never seen these artists without the Wall.

It also hosted other events. Charitable groups could run coffee houses to support awesome causes like Relay for Life or Movember. We once had Verne Troyer come in and do a Q & A. Yes, Mini-Me from Austin Powers just hung out at our campus bar. How cool is that?!

The Wall was the first place my Nipissing friends ever saw me do stand-up. I asked how long I was allowed to go on for, as up until then I’d only done five minutes.

“You’ll get the same as all the musicians, so you get 20.”

I then proceeded to go home and write about ten minutes of new stuff. Gotta fill the time, right? After that night, I felt like I really had the ability to be a comedian.


The Wall was shut down for a time in my fourth & fifth years at school, but did open back up. This elated me and my friends, who had been going to the Wall for so long and felt a gap when it had shut down. The Wall had been a huge part of our socialization as students. When we lived nearby, we could pop by the bar for a 1 am walk around, grab a pita from Pita Pizza upstairs and head back home without ever having to pay for coat check, even in winter.

When it opened back up, it became the place for myself and my education classmates to unwind after all of our classes. It was the spot to celebrate getting our education, finishing a long road and looking back on what we accomplished.

The first day it was opened in fifth year, I clearly was going to attend. I got there and the line was already pretty large. I saw a bouncer I knew only as MoFo (I assume it was not his birth name) wave at me and tell me to get on up to the front. He said it was good to see me and asked how I was doing, when I was graduating, things like that. This proved me two things:

1. The Wall staff really did care and remember

2. I may have gone to the Wall too frequently.

It was run with faces we recognized. My friends were the bartenders, the bouncers, taking coats. It was an operation built on the backs of students to give students a place to unwind and socialize on campus, with alcohol or without.


The Wall, as I mentioned is now closed. It absolutely breaks my heart because I know I was not alone in loving that bar. I am not the only person whose friends thought of it as “our bar.” It was an integral part of growing up at Nipissing for me, and I’m sad that part is lost on future students.

I hope that another campus pub or bar can fill that void left in the student experience. It can, and it will. I’ll forever be partial to the brick walls, the dancing on the speakers, and the genuine atmosphere of fun that the Wall provided to me.

If you ever worked at the Wall, or also shared in it’s wonderful experience, thank you for making it such a great place and a big part of our campus. I’m glad we all got to see it together. Now, cue up Closing Time.

Three Weeks With Sampson

Carrying a plant around for three weeks, almost killing it, and attempting to be a good #PlantDaddy.

Normally my relationships with plants I own go the same way as all of my Snapchat streaks: they die, and it’s usually my fault. So when one of my best friends asked me to be a part of an experiment where I carry a plant everywhere with me for three weeks, I had one thought:

Oh crap, I’m gonna kill it.

The general idea was this: carry a plant everywhere on your person for three weeks. Plant goes to work with you, the grocery store with you, an *NSYNC concert with you (I wish) but you get the idea. The point is to see if you get more environmentally conscious and spoilers, I did.

On the first day, I picked up a succulent because they are apparently super hard to kill. I named him Sampson, and immediately became a plant dad. Fatherhood was in full swing.

At first I got really tired of explaining the same thing over and over again. “Yeah, it’s for an experiment.” “It lasts three weeks.” Eventually though, people came around to it.

I grew weirdly attached to Sampson. We would have conversations that were pretty ones-sided. He got a hallowe’en costume (a pineapple). He became my phone background (a photo of him in a pumpkin patch). I love being able to interact with people which makes living alone difficult sometimes, but Sampson filled that void.

Some of it was difficult, like going to a bar. Having to stuff Sampson in my fanny pack made me feel guilty. It also made me go to the bar with a fanny pack on, which is a plus in my books. Still, it was awkward to not have a hand to use while walking around.

It was not all amazing, as evidenced by the event. I was picking up some groceries with Sampson (who made zero dent on my food bill, the little angel) and I dropped him in the parking lot. It was in slow motion, and he cracked right in half. I proceeded to panic, drive him home as quick as possible and maybe bend some traffic laws to get him in a new pot.

I had to un-pot another plant to put Sampson in his new mug, but these are the tough decisions parents have to make I suppose. That plant didn’t have a name, so it was a relatively easy call. Sampson lived on to the rest of the three weeks and beyond.

I really did become more environmentally conscious, because I became aware of changes in how Sampson looked. He went from green (the right colour) to purple (not quite right) and I had to work to keep him alive. Now I have a real connection to a plant, as opposed to just having plants as decoration.

Sampson now lives on my end table, with two yet-to-be-named other succulents. It’s pretty obvious that I have a favourite kid, but that’s to be expected when you carry them around for so long.

In the future though, I’ll keep my plants at home. Sampson is my first favourite plant, which is an exciting thing. And frankly, I think I’m ready to upgrade. Bring on the goldfish!

Thankful for Wrestling, Student Affairs & New Friends

A note of thanks for a facebook group of people who love two of the things I love most.

It’s American Thanksgiving (a.k.a Thanksgiving 2: The Southern Sequel) so I wanted to focus on something I’m thankful for that has connected me with a cool group of Americans.

When I started in Student Affairs, my main sources for learning and knowledge were the bosses and mentors I had at my own institutions. It was one of those bosses who introduced me to a facebook group that combined two of my loves – higher education & professional wrestling – called the #SAKliq (Student Affairs Kliq)

Sidebar: If you didn’t know that about me, surprise! I’m a huge wrestling nerd. Yes, the stuff that Hulk Hogan and the Rock did and John Cena does. Yes, the stuff that is “fake” (it’s predetermined, y’all). It’s great entertainment to me. I loved it as a kid and got back into it hardcore in 2013. Those guys in the header are the New Day, and they may be some of my favourite humans on earth currently.

Getting into wrestling actually led me to writing, which led me to this site. So wrestling is to blame for all my writing AND the John Cena meme. You’re welcome.

Anyways, I was soon added to this community online who had great discussions about both things I was super passionate about. It was a place to gain insight about different topics in student affairs, get advice for job interviews, and still rant about how great or bad the last wrestling show. It’s a community of nerds, but they’re my kind of nerds.

While I really started just creeping on the group, it’s become a great haven for me. I now get to interact with seasoned Student Affairs pros from across the country and gain their insights. I’m one of only a few Canadians in the group and it gives me the ability to pipe in as “that Canadian kid.” It’s a supportive, open, and genuinely fun community. When I got my latest job offer, the first three people who knew were my mom, my roommate, and this community. They celebrated with comments, likes, and treated me as one of their own, because I was and I am.

I recently went to a conference in Nebraska, and managed to meet up with a few of the folks from the group. I’d made a point of telling them I was heading to Nebraska, and being the only Canadian school there I was pretty easy to find. For a conference in a strange land (not that Nebraska is that strange) I had a built-in friend. That was the absolute coolest. If you read this, thanks Ryan!

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The UMR-ACUHO 4 Horsemen vs The Originals. Now considering if Arn Anderson (in the front) could possibly be my father…

Someone told me that a cool part of growing up is finding your people. I have a lot of great people in my life who love student affairs. I have very few who love wrestling.. sorry, all my friends who hear me rant about it. In this group though, I’ve found the cross-section of both. There aren’t many groups where you can go from talking about staff evaluation, to supportive conversations around the stresses of the job, to talking about how over-pushed Roman Reigns is. It’s a beautiful thing, and on this sequel Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for that.

The #SAKliq is forever, yo.

Writing from Happy

Writing from a different place than normal.

Writing is something that I treat as a passion, but I’m starting to learn that it might be more of a coping mechanism for me than anything.

I haven’t written a lot on the site in the past few weeks. Hell, I haven’t written at all, on the site or otherwise, in weeks. At first, the reason was that I was swamped with work. Then I realized it wasn’t that; it was that I’d just been happy for a while.

Most of my writing would come out of the feelings we’ve deemed less than pleasant. A lot of posts have come from feeling isolated or alone, struggling with connecting to people. The poems I write come from feelings I don’t really get.

The jokes I write usually come from not understanding something. Something makes me confused, or I think is weird, so I try to dissect it. Why is it the way it is? Why does it happen like that? What if it happened another way? Try and think of it differently, so my brain makes it work. That’s where the jokes come from.

Yet the last while, I’ve felt genuinely happy. Not that I haven’t been happy, but I’m starting to realize that with feelings of happiness the urge to write is weaker. This bugs me a bit.

I treat writing as a passion, and as something that connects me to people. So now that I realize I’ve stopped, I feel less connected. That’s not the best recipe for keeping the happy going, now is it?

So now I’m trying to learn how to write from happy. I don’t really like the portrait of the tortured artist, where creativity only comes from places of being upset. I try not to take myself seriously, because I find serious me boring as hell. It’s just an important realization to know that writing happy is a bit of a different animal.

Just because I’m not sad doesn’t mean I can’t write authentically. Just because I’m not confused doesn’t mean I can’t question things and make jokes. The laughs I get aren’t the only thing that makes me happy; the happy can come first. It may take a little while to get used to, but it’ll be fun to write from happy.

Poems For Nobody II

He’s back, and this time: he’s going to leave you William Shook-speare.

Nailed it.

Somewhere between the moonlight touching your face
And the sunlight breaking up our party
Is the closest thing to heaven that I’ve known.


They say to never meet your heroes.
What if the people you already know become your heroes?
The friend who endures heartbreak and learns to love again unguarded.
That person becomes a hero.
The boy who becomes a man and learns that being a product of a man does not mean you are destined to end up like him, and changes his ways for the better.
That person becomes a hero.
The parent who works two jobs to give their kids a new bike, and splits their shifts to be able to ride it with them when they get home from school.
That person becomes a hero.
The elderly couple who show love is not found just in grand gestures but in the every day.
They become heroes.
The survivor, who carries on living every damn day.
That person. Hero.
Those who love and live and fall down and get up. Dust themselves off and try.
They become a hero that is better than one in a comic book or a tv screen.
They’re real, and they’re here.
No cape or mask just determination and belief that things will come around.
It’s impossible not to meet your heroes when your heroes keep revealing themselves slowly in front of your eyes.

I do not believe in love at first sight.
It’s never felt right.
But one night or one day
There will be something they do
or say
or a laugh
a look or a smile
that will make you pause for a small while and say
Oh shit. This really is it, isn’t it.

The river is the before.
Calm and still.
Moving forward, steady on.
The fall is the during.
Crashing and thrashing.
Waves engulfing, frantically down.
The river is the after.
Calm and still once more.
Moving forward, steady on.

One Year Anniversary: Things I Think I Think

30 things I think I think for one year of writing this site.

October 5th last year I started writing this blog. It’s become a part of who I am. So to celebrate, I’m just going to list some things that I think I think based on the last year. It’s been a hell of a year for me, and for everyone probably. These are just some things I think I think:

  1. I think it’s okay to pray, even if you don’t know exactly what or who you’re praying to. Even if you don’t know if you even believe in it, there’s nothing wrong with praying for change or strength.
  2. I think the road to loving yourself is lined with days that feel like hating yourself.
  3. I think the days of hating yourself sometimes are the days where you just question yourself for real. What do you stand for, who are you, and what do you want. Are you going that way? Keeping yourself from growing is a barrier to loving yourself.
  4. I think when people say drink more water, they might be on to something.
  5. I think Spotify premium might be the best investment I’ve made since my degree.
  6. I think you can’t really go home again, but you can always carry home with you.
  7. I think that even with that said, I haven’t felt a love for a place like I did when I drove in to North Bay for homecoming. I’ve never been happier to see the Canadore buildings.
  8. I think I really don’t know how much some people care about me. At the same time, I think some people don’t know how much I care about them. That’s something I can work to change.
  9. I think Sam Smith might literally be an angel.
  10. I think that I finally have a haircut I really like, even if it does look a lot like every other white guys haircut.
  11. I think sometimes goals can be too lofty, but you’ll get there by sticking through it.
  12. I think watching Please Like Me was an experience beyond it being a good show.
  13. I think an election that doesn’t govern me managed to hurt me and people around me in a way I didn’t expect.
  14. I think that it also lit a fire under so many young people that can’t be ignored.
  15. I think recognizing the importance of the family you define is a part of growing up.
  16. I think Coloring Book will be a part of my album rotation for the rest of my life. Hope my kids enjoy listening to Sunday Candy in my future minivan.
  17. I think that it’s a lot easier to be happier for someone than to hold a grudge.
  18. I think honestly showing poetry to people was the second most brave thing I did this past year.
  19. I think moving to Thunder Bay was the most.
  20. I think I’m getting better at sticking in moments when they happen.
  21. I think Autumn has really managed to sneak up on my rankings of favourite seasons.
  22. I think I’m learning the impact that writing and art can have. I’ve had people quote my writing on their sites, their Instagrams, and to my face. Hearing that something I wrote could relate to someone else makes us both a little less lonely, right?
  23. I think I should learn Portuguese
  24. I think I’m getting better at sticking in moments when they happen. I think I need to hire or borrow an editor so I don’t put the same thing on here twice.
  25. I think the world is full of interesting people I haven’t met yet, which excites me.
  26. I think I might never meet a lot of them, which bothers me.
  27. I think if I have half as good of a New Years this year as I did to ring in 2017, I’ll be a happy guy.
  28. I think now that I’ve started travelling (across the province, to the U.S) I’m afraid for my wallet that I won’t stop keep going further and further.
  29. I think some of the most important parts of being human are connection, art, laughter, humanity, and love. Bringing those into the world might be all we can really do to make this a better place.
  30. I think I frequently have no idea what the hell I’m talking about. It’s all part of the learning process, and laughing off things when something goes wrong. I mean, it IS all pretty funny.

I’m really happy with how a year of writing this site has gone. Interviewing some people (really fell off on that one.. whoops. Next year – more interviews) and writing some of the weird thoughts in my head. Bringing great stand-ups to people’s attention, and also sharing my own attempts.

If my writing has made you feel anything: laughter, thoughtfulness, sadness, anger, hope, joy, whatever. If it has, thank you. I’ll keep on writing if you keep on reading.

To more years in the future.

Evan